Yesterday I spent a couple of hours evaluating SWIVL for potential use at the University of Houston (UH). I thought I would jot down my early impressions of the potential usability and value of SWIVL for academic institutions.
SWIVL jumped onto the scene as a Kickstarter project in December 2012 and has delivered on its promise to create a multipurpose motion and tracking platform. The company highlights the educational use cases for SWIVL for flipped classrooms, lecture capture, distance education, and collaboration. Educational institutions are the source of 75-80 percent of their business and they have received additional capital to guarantee the launch of the second generation of SWIVL devices.
There is a growing body of data highlighting the urgency for simple, effective video integrations. Over the decade represented below, students selecting distance education courses increased by 150 percent. Projections show that by the end of 2013, 18 percent of undergraduate students will receive 80 percent of their credits through distance education courses.
After conducting a few small focus groups at UH, the data pointed to a common sense conclusion: faculty, staff, and students want a hassle-free way to record and upload course-related video. While enterprise lecture capture systems still have value at large universities, we found that many users want more agile and spontaneous approaches to content creation and distribution. Using our user personas and use cases we identified several requirements for video capture:
Can the device be setup in less than five minutes by someone who has never used it before?
Whether giving a lecture or creating videos in student groups, the device must enable and even encourage movement and action. With the varied classroom layouts and differences in departmental needs, it’s also important that the device be able to function unplugged.
The bottom line is that we want to empower faculty, staff, and students to create, share, and learn using their preferred applications while giving them full control over their content. The device must be easy to integrate with the many applications and services at UH (e.g., WordPress, YouTube, Drupal, Moodle, Blackboard Learn, etc.).
In order to impact the curriculum and pedagogy, we have to actually get these devices into users’ hands. This means that the device must be affordable and require very little external support.
The device and supporting applications should be capable of supporting usage that will exceed current rates. Special care should be taken to address the challenge of maintaining efficiency while allowing flexibility.
So how did SWIVL do?
+remote activated record
+battery and AC powered
-awkward adjustment wheel
-requires iPhone or iPod Touch to use remote and microphone
-only pans, no tilt
I originally created this video for internal use only but here is the quick overview and demonstration for those of you interested in seeing the performance of SWIVL without audio or video effects with an iPhone 4S in an empty classroom: